1901 Census Monks Horton,
Kent, England

  1881 Census Standford,
 Kent, England

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Remembrance Day

Christmas in the Workhouse



 Canterbury Shrubsoles

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1875 - 1955

Such an extremely sad story about this family.

John Albert Shrubsole married Rosina Tudgay in 1899 in Elham rural district.

John was born 28 February 1875 in Lympne, Kent and in 1881 he was living in Folkestone with his parents and siblings.  1891 sees him still with his parents in Folkestone and working as a Blacksmith's apprentice.

By 1901 John is a general labourer, so what happened to his Blacksmith's apprentice – did he ever finish it I wonder, or did he finish it & there wasn't the work;  I'll probably never know.  He is living in Folkestone still but by now is married and has one child.

His wife Rosina was born in Bath, Somerset, so it would be interesting to know where they met.  Rosina appears to have had a wretched life.  At the age of 4 she was in the workhouse in Wiltshire with parents and siblings.  By 1891 she was out of the workhouse and a general domestic live in servant in Wiltshire and in 1899 she married John Shrubsole.

I wonder if she thought life had just got better and was looking forward to a new start in life as a wife & mother.  Well she certainly got that!  How sad for her because between 1899 and 1911 she had given birth to 8 children and lost 3 of them.  She was a cripple, (but at what stage of her life this occurred I know not) and in 1913 she was back in the workhouse with her five surviving children who were then aged 13, 11, 8, 6 and 4.  I have yet to discover if she ever did get out of the workhouse again & I must get a copy of her death certificate to find out where she died, but die she did the following year in 1914 at the tender age of 36/7, which left John with five young children to bring up.  If he was having difficulty when Rosina was alive I wonder what on earth life was like after she'd died.

I know that by 1917 Caroline was living in the Warren Farm School in Brighton - I need to do some more research to see if the other children were there too.  Those poor children - from poverty to workhouse to loosing their mother & then on to a school for paupers miles away from their father & grandparents!  I do hope the ones that survived ended up having a really good life once they were able to stand on their own two feet;  they certainly deserved to.

Warren Farm school for pauper children was erected in 1861-2 at Rottingdean, not far from the Race Hill workhouse. The school, whose operation depended on the completion of the well, opened on 14th August 1862 when 75 boys and 65 girls marched there in procession from the Dyke Road workhouse.

The building was broadly T-shaped in layout with boys accommodated at one side, and girls to the other. A separate infirmary was located at the south of the school, and an entrance lodge at the entrance to the site at the north-west.

In 1989, Mr Holland, a 71-year old local resident who remembered the school, recalled that it had a high wall around it and that there used to be cut glass on the top. The school's location was then 'in the middle of nowhere' but there used to be a small shop across the road that used to sell toffee apples. The school used to compete in marathons against local boys with which the locals used to win. However, when it came to boxing matches, the the Warren Farm boys would usually win.

[One of my aunt's could remember Carrie (Caroline) and Violet who were the children of her 'Uncle Jack'.  I just wish she'd told me more about them whilst she was still alive.]

I have found a couple of newspaper clippings about John deserting his family in the workhouse and of being 'repeatedly in public houses'.  I wonder which came first the chicken or the egg?   Was his bad luck caused by his drinking or did he end up in public houses at the end of his tether.  We'll never know now, so can't be judge & jury.  You will see in the report of how a visit to their home described no doors on the back of the house (used for firewood I wonder to keep warm?) and the children had to sleep on straw – apparently out of an old bolster.  These were difficult times and whatever the circumstances of John's employment or lack of it,  Rosina and the children certainly had it rough.  John died at the ripe old age of 79/80.

The eldest son John Alfred b 1900 joined the Royal Navy at the tender age of 16 in 1916.  On 17th November 1917 he was killed or died as a direct result of enemy action on the HMS Calypso & was buried at sea.    You can see more details about him &
HMS Calypso on the section devoted to him.

I am slowly trying to trace through this family to see if any of their children or grandchildren have any more information on their earlier life.  I know that Caroline married Alfred Ralph Tucker in Wandsworth, London and they had children so I originally posted that perhaps if one of them sees this they'd get in touch, and much to my delight one of Caroline’s grand daughters contacted me.  She tells me that whilst Caroline had a hard start in life once she was old enough she worked as a housekeeper & then met Alfred & married & went on to have her own family.  Thankfully she at least had a good life after such an awful start.

The newspaper cuttings are taken from the

Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate, and Cheriton Herald of

March 15th 1913 & July 26th 1913



At the Seabrook Police Court on Friday before Mr. E. Garnet Man (in the chair), and Mr. F.E. Burke, John A Shrubsole was charged with deserting his wife and family.

Mr. Geo Cookson, relieving officer, said that on January 22nd the accused, his wife, and five children were granted orders for admittance to the Elham Union, the man being told that he himself must go in with his wife till he got work.  A cab was sent for the woman, as she was a cripple.  The man accompanied her to the entrance of the Workhouse, and then ran away.  His wife and children were admitted on a new order.  Mr. Cookson described a visit to the place where the family lived;  there were no doors at the back of the house while the five children only had some straw – apparently out of an old bolster – on which to sleep.  Accused had been in the Workhouse before was allowed to leave to go to work but the Guardians had the greatest difficulty to get money from him for the support of his wife and children.

Defendent said he had now got work, and was earning 23s or 24s.

The Bench ordered the defendant to pay 15s. Per week for the present, and adjourned the case for a month, to see how he got on.  Accused was also ordered to report himself at Seabrook Police Station every day on his way from Folkestone (where he now lived) to Hythe (where he now worked).

Transcript from:



In the case of the Elham Board of Guardians v Shrubsole, Mr. Cookson, the relieving officer, told the Bench that defendant had not taken his wife and children out of the Union, as he had promised to do at the previous court, and he (Mr. Cookson) had failed to discover the rooms which the defendant referred to.  The man had been given every opportunity.  He was getting 28s. A week, and was repeatedly in public houses.

The Chairman said Shrubsole would be sentenced to one month's hard labour;  on the next occasion it would be two months.